Occupy Denver was among groups in 27 cities to rally in support of Occupy Oakland, which experienced a recent round of 300 arrests. About 125 protesters gathered for an impromptu march that shut down large sections of traffic near Broadway and Colfax between 7:30 and 10 p.m. and attracted the attention of police in riot gear. It was the group's first mass action since it set fires in Civic Center Park during a December 19 protest.
Protesters portray the rally as a sign of things to come. In the past month, the group has moved away from regular marches in favor of plans for direct action, and last night's marked a success either despite of or because of its short notice. The event was organized quickly and protesters were given notice through Facebook posts and Twitter chains earlier that day.
The timing was due partly to the fact that Occupy Oakland's most recent protest occurred only the night before, and also because of a wish to surprise the city and its police force. When the march began, it was unaccompanied by a police presence. However, around fifteen police cars eventually joined the group as it marched down Broadway and Colfax to the District 6 police station and then the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center before eventually ending up in Lincoln Park.
As the protesters marched in the streets, police blocked off Broadway and Colfax from oncoming traffic. Right of way from a variety of spots was shut down for more than two hours.
"Mike check!" one man shouted upon entering the occupation's first location. "Mike check! Welcome home!"
In later weeks, the group plans to renew a presence in Lincoln Park, if only temporarily, during committee meetings and other direct actions. Last night's march, though small, included a generous numbers of new faces as well as the support of the newly established Occupy Littleton. In the three weeks since its first GA, the smaller sister group has increased its membership from five people to 22, a handful of whom took to the streets of Denver last night.
During the march, protesters stopped briefly in the walkway between the courthouse and the detention center: Police had stopped their vehicles on both sides, with some standing outside their cars in riot gear, and protesters worried about being kettled. Instead, they marched directly in front of two cop cars, which they pushed out of the area as they walked. (Last night's march was also heavy on new chants, most of which are unflattering to the police department.)
When the march ended, a dance party broke out in Lincoln Park. No arrests were made, and the event did much to rally spirits for a group many assumed was metaphorically dead after its last altercation in Civic Center Park.
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More from our Occupy archives: "Occupy Boulder: Evidence suppressed after police enter tents without warrant."